Bristol’s Bats: student campaign

Find out more about why bats are so important to a sustainable future and what you can do to protect them in this blog. This is written by a UWE Bristol student who’s started a campaign called Bristol’s Bats.

Find out more about why bats are so important to a sustainable future and what you can do to protect them in this blog. This is written by a UWE Bristol student who’s started a campaign called Bristol’s Bats.

I am Abby-Mae Kirk, a third-year student studying Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Science at UWE Bristol. I am currently undertaking a 3-month campaign looking at light pollution and how it affects bats on campus. This campaign is called Bristol’s Bats and in this blog, I’d like to share information about you about how to reduce your light pollution not only on campus but also at home!

There are many types of light pollution; over-illumination, glare, light clutter, skyglow, and light trespass. The most common form of light pollution from individuals is over-illumination.

This is about lights being left on as well as streetlights. However, there are a few easy solutions to help reduce your contribution to light pollution while at home. Blackout blinds are an amazing investment not only for your sleep but also to help protect nocturnal animals from lights on inside the home. You can also turn off lights if you no longer need them, which will not only reduce your light pollution but also your electricity bill! Something else you can do is replace light bulbs that are over five years old as these is more likely to contribute to light pollution than newer bulbs.

Another cause of light pollution many people are less aware of is glare from light reflecting off surfaces, which bounces up into the atmosphere. This can be easily solved by moving any reflective items away from light sources or windows. Finally, any outdoor or security lighting should be placed on a timer as this not only allows you again to save money but produces safe dark areas for all nocturnal species after a certain time. If this is not possible, placing a backing on the lights helps ensure the light only points down and doesn’t reflect up into the sky.

A final idea is to contact local businesses and the council to see what they are doing to reduce their light pollution output and help nocturnal species.

But why should you care about bats as well as other nocturnal animals? They are incredibly important in the UK, as we have 18 different species, with 17 of these breeding here. According to the Bat Conservation Trust, they are incredibly important to our ecosystems as they play four main roles. These include biodiversity indicators, pollinators, pest control, and helping with seed dispersal and reforestation.

Using bats as biodiversity indicators helps show us the state of the environment, as they’re the top predator of nocturnal insects. They are also an indicator of the pressure faced by habitat fragmentation, intensification in agriculture, development, and landscape change. Pollination is also an incredibly important role as 500 different species of plants rely on bats as pollinators! Examples of these species include mango, banana, and agave (which makes tequila).

Reducing your light pollution not only helps bats but also helps you! Light pollution has been linked to having severe adverse effects on people’s health, as it disturbs their natural circadian rhythm. These may include causing cancer, cardiovascular disease, depression, and insomnia. By reducing your output of light pollution, you can also decrease the risk of these diseases.

There are some links at the bottom of the page if you wish to learn more about light pollution and what you can do to help. If you have any questions about any of the information in this blog or would like to know how you can get in involved with this campaign please do not hesitate to contact me at abby2.kirk@live.uwe.ac.uk 

You can also give my campaign page a follow @bristolbats on Instagram and Bristol’s Bats on Facebook for more information and tips.

 

Resources:

Why Bats Matter

Threats to Bats

Causes and Effects of Light Pollution

Getting exterior lighting right